#SeparatedbutUnited - hope of a better future
As the world starts to look towards the social and economic recovery following the global coronavirus pandemic, the lives, rights and wellbeing of a whole generation of young people depends on what comes next. This series of short blog posts on how we build a better future are all written by the Board Members of the European Youth Forum.
A greener economy is possible!
Written by Rosalyn Old
A planet in lockdown, humanity shielding from a tragic pandemic. It is hard to imagine how anything remotely positive could come from these events. Yet, through darkness and uncertainty there have been glimmers of hope. Scenes of a world in which children could cycle safely on main routes into city centres, where air traffic declined by 41% in the last two weeks of March, where nature provided moments of calm in a time of increased anxiety and daily global CO2 emissions decreased by -17%.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a devastating loss of life, exacerbating existing inequalities and changing the world as we know it. With a larger economic recession than that of 2008 looming, we sit at a crossroads. A ‘new normal’ is inevitable and this moment to pause could provide young people with a unique chance to reshape Europe in a way that changes our current course, towards a more climate-friendly future for current and future generations.
Within a matter of weeks the coronavirus pandemic turned lives upside down across Europe. The need to stay at home localised our worlds. We adapted our behaviour in ways previously unthinkable - leaving cars stationary, cancelling holiday flights and buying from independent businesses to keep them going through the crisis. Without realising it, many of us were modelling what a green economy could look like.
Youth organisations have long explored what it means to have a just transition, a wellbeing economy and a sustainable Europe. There is a risk that in the hurry to rebuild the global economy, environmental commitments will be forgotten and temporary active travel provisions removed. As Generation Climate Europe put forward in their statement, the climate crisis remains a key threat to our generation. Now is the time for young people to be at the heart of shaping the recovery, centering equality, environment, democracy in a new economy which measures success on wellbeing of people and planet.
As we recover from the lockdown, we can’t let these glimmers of hope fade away. Let’s reshape Europe, in a way that works for everyone.
Rosalyn works as a researcher on community organisations and has undertaken PhD research on sustainable cities and human behaviour. Her volunteering background is in students’ unions, Girlguiding UK and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, with a focus on governance and advocacy. In the European Youth Forum she focuses on sustainable development, climate change and supporting youth delegates in these spaces.